Dennis Severs' 1724 house of Huguenot shadows to reopen in Spitalfields

The house of shadows in Folgate Street

The house of shadows in Folgate Street - Credit: Spitalfields Trust

An old East End house which had its electricity ripped out to be turned back to the 18th century is reopening to the public after a year in lockdown.

The original Huguenot merchant’s dwelling was derelict when American storyteller Dennis Severs came to Spitalfields in 1979. 

Dennis Severs in the 18th century Huguenot house he restored in 1979

Dennis Severs in the 18th century Huguenot house he restored in 1979 - Credit: Spitalfields Trust

He bought the run-down terraced property in Folgate Street just before it was to be demolished.  

The Spitalfields Trust, led by TV historian Dan Cruickshank stepped in to help him restore its five storeys to its original 18th-century glory. 

That meant ripping out the wiring and wall sockets, replacing the lighting with candles, removing carpets and any mod cons like running water to tell the story of an imaginary Huguenot family living in 1724.  


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The trust reopens the house on July 29 for time travellers to stroll back through three centuries in Severs’ footsteps. 

Tours that Severs himself gave when he opened the house in 1980 have been recreated.

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Dennis Severs died of cancer at the age of 51. But his legacy of the Huguenot house at 18 Folgate Street lives on. 

How Dennis Severs imagined his 18th century house would have looked if left derelict 300 years

How Dennis Severs imagined his 18th century house would have looked if left derelict 300 years - Credit: Spitalfields Trust


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